Tag Archives: Illinois law

Why Was a Guardian ad Litem Appointed to Our Case?

guardian ad litem, Wheaton family law attorneysWhen you are involved in a dispute over parental responsibilities or other concerns related to your children, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity, especially if the relationship between you and the other party is not ideal. Divorce situations are especially prone to acrimony and contentiousness, and unfortunately, the best interests of the child can be somewhat lost among the myriad of other considerations. A court-appointed attorney known as a guardian ad litem, however, can help refocus the proceedings on the child’s well-being, thanks to provisions offered by Illinois law.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Unlike other types of guardianship, such as those covered by the Illinois Probate Act, which provide far-reaching authority over another person’s interests for an indefinite period of time, the guardian ad litem, or GAL, is appointed for the specified proceeding. In fact, the Latin phrase “ad litem” translates to English as “for the suit.” While GALs may serve similar purposes in other areas of law, they are most commonly utilized in family law situations on behalf of a child’s interests. In Illinois, a GAL is required to be a licensed attorney, properly trained and qualified to serve in such a capacity.

The Duties of the Guardian ad Litem

The most important thing for parents to keep in mind when a guardian ad litem has been appointed to their case is that the GAL works as extension of the court. He or she has no interest in who “wins” or “loses,” but is instead focused on determining the outcome that would best serve the child. The GAL is required to conduct an investigation into the child’s living and family situation to identify best practices and area of concern. In doing so, he or she may interview the child, parents, and other relevant family members or individuals, review previous court proceedings, and observe the child’s home, school and community environments.

Based on the results of the investigation, the GAL utilizes his or her training and experience to develop a best-case recommendation regarding the outcome of the case. The recommendation is provided to the court as expert witness testimony, either in writing or in person, and is subject to cross-examination according to the rules of court procedure. The court is expected to give substantial weight to the GAL’s findings, as it is presumed that the GAL will have reasonably considered all relevant factors.

Protecting the Interests of Children

If you are going through a divorce and are concerned about the well-being of your child, we can help you petition the court to appoint a guardian ad litem. Contact a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney today for more information on meeting your child’s needs throughout the process. Call 630-971-1002 for a free consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group.






Can I Pay Child Support Without Going Through the Court System?

child support, Wheaton child support lawyerThere are many different reasons that a child may require additional financial support from a parent. If a child’s parents were not married or together when the child was born, child support helps distribute the child’s expenses between both parents. This helps safeguard against one parent being saddled with the entirety of the financial burden associated with raising a child.

Child support also acts as a way of holding parents’ accountable for paying their fair share of costs like tuition, child care, housing, food, clothing, and others. The courts can help parents reach a child support arrangement which is reasonable and fair for both parents. The court also has the authority to intervene when a parent is not living up to the agreed upon child support commitment.

Some unmarried parents try to arrange an informal child support plan. They exchange money intended to help support the child outside of the rules and regulations of the courts. Unfortunately, this often results in unreliable child support payments, support nonpayment, ineffective parent-to-parent communication, and a generous amount of stress for everyone involved.

Avoiding the Formal Court System Can Result in Uncertainty and Vulnerability for Both Parties

Going to court can be a tedious task. It understandable that many parents look for ways to pay child support without getting a court-mandated child support order. However, parents who simply hand the other parent a check or envelope of money put themselves at risk in several ways. Firstly, if you are making payments to your child’s other parent outside of a court order, there is no way to legally prove these payments were made. Even if you are using a check or money order which leaves a paper trail, these payments cannot be considered child support in the future. In the future, this parent could take you to court alleging that you are not supporting your child. The parent can claim that the payments were made for another reason unrelated to the child’s expenses.

Informal Child Support Payments Can Be Ambiguous

Another concern for parents making child support payments outside of the system is that the recipient can begin to demand more and more money. Some parents tragically use their children as pawns in order to get what they want. If you have been casually giving the other parent money and he or she claims to now need twice as much money for some new child-related expense, there is no way for you to verify this. Alternatively, child support arrangements made through the court can only be changed if a verified significant life event necessitates it.

Let Us Help

At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we provide experienced, dependable legal counsel regarding child support and child custody, spousal support (alimony), fathers’ rights, and more. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Illinois family law attorneys call 630-871-1002 today.




The Basics of Equitable Distribution in Illinois

equitable, DuPage County property division attorneysIn the movies and on television, casual references to divorce and property division seem to promote the idea that divorcing spouses will automatically split their assets down the middle, with each person getting an equal share. While there may be some level of truth to that assumption in certain states, the reality in Illinois is often much more complex. Divorce and property division statutes in the state require the equitable distribution of marital assets, which means fair and just, not necessarily equal.

Negotiated Agreements

As with most aspects of divorce, there is no requirement that all decisions must be left up to the court. You and your spouse are able to work out a property division agreement that is reasonable and meets the needs of all involved parties. If the resulting agreement is not unconscionably one-sided and you and your spouse voluntarily agree to its terms, the court is very likely to approve it and incorporate it into your divorce settlement. Such an agreement, however, is not always possible; in which case, the court must intervene and make a determination.

Considerations for Equitable Distribution

To begin the process, the court must first establish the marital estate and its value. With few exceptions, any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is subject to division. Value can be determined by professional appraisers, as needed, or by reasonable estimates. Then, the court will be tasked with reaching a conclusion regarding what is equitable and just based upon the circumstances of the marriage and divorce. By law, required considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate, including the intangible contributions of a homemaker or stay-at-home parent;
  • Any property dissipated by either spouse;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The value of property allocated to each spouse, and the anticipated impact of the allocations;
  • The age, health, income capacity, and resources of each spouse;
  • Provisions being made for the couple’s children;
  • Pending requests or previous decisions regarding spousal maintenance; and
  • The tax consequences of any and all property allocations.

Marital misconduct may not be considered, no matter how egregious the actions may have been. Thus, cheating, drug abuse, and abandonment may have no bearing on the property division process, though a spouse may have other avenues for remedy in such a situation.

If you are considering divorce and have questions about property division and equitable distribution in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We will review your case, help you understand your options, and provide the answers you need throughout the divorce process. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.